It was an overall challenging day for Manchester United against Brighton and Hove Albion. In contrast, the Seagulls are currently sitting high in fourth place with four wins from their first five games.
They were impressive, clinical, and worked cohesively at Old Trafford yesterday afternoon.
However, the same cannot be said for Manchester United at the moment. Their frustrating start to the season continued, leaving them in a lowly 12th position after this latest humbling defeat.
Erik ten Hag’s direct transitional attacking style, which worked well in the Eredivisie where possession is highly valued regardless of team position, has encountered mixed success in the Premier League.
Once Brighton scored their second goal, United appeared lost in the attacking third of the pitch.
Fans left frustrated with Marcus Rashford moment
Marcus Rashford was one of United’s better performers on another afternoon to forget for The Red Devils. The England international completed a handful of dangerous dribbles in the Brighton half and was not shy of having a shot at goal. However, there was no goal for him.
During the game, Rashford registered nine shots, two of which were on target, and he also had more than 50 touches of the ball. However, he was as culpable as anyone for neglecting his defensive responsibilities, as Brighton consistently found opportunities to play their way out from the back. His pressing efforts seemed lackluster, and he didn’t appear particularly eager to contribute to the defensive efforts in a disappointing display.
A classic case in point was Brighton’s opening goal, scored by former United forward Danny Welbeck. The goal was too easy from United’s perspective, who had got off to an impressive start. The ex-United and Arsenal striker started the move in midfield, putting The Red Devils on the back foot, and eventually offloaded the ball to winger Simon Adingra. Former Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana then smartly jumped over Adingra’s cross and allowed Welbeck to score a tap-in.
Pascal Gross compounded Manchester United’s problems with the second goal, as Brighton managed to execute an impressive 29-pass sequence, maintaining possession in United’s final third. Kaoru Mitoma and Tariq Lamptey combined on the left-hand side as Gross made his way into the box. After the 32-year-old allowed the ball to pass across his body following Lamptey’s pass, Manchester United’s center-back Lisandro Martinez attempted to slide in and regain possession but completely missed, leaving Gross free to take a shot at goal. His effort skimmed past the outstretched Andre Onana and nestled into the bottom corner.
Look at Rashford here omg pic.twitter.com/IbQwZ4O7GL
— BurnHard (@BurnHardUTD) September 16, 2023
Joao Pedro was then allowed plenty of space at the top of the area to curl home a delightful third in the 71st minute, although Hannibal Mejbri immediately replied two minutes later for the hosts. However, it did not spark the comeback Old Trafford craved.
United look like a team going backwards fast, a club that no longer knows right from wrong, a club that has lost its identity, a club whose ground is called the Theatre of Dreams but stopped being that a long time ago, a club that has had one false start after another since Sir Alex Ferguson retired but can never quite locate the way it used to be.